Day 13, Year 4: US Election-Big World News

Day 13, Year 4: US Election-Big World News
Date: Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Weather: Sunny Day; Rain Showers in Late Afternoon
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

It was a busier day on Windbird than we had hoped for, but it was productive. Early in the day Mark was emptying the jerry jugs of diesel on deck into the fuel tanks and discovered a blockage on the starboard side. Fuel just wouldn’t go in. The fuel hose leading from the deck to the tank goes through our main salon closet, so we had to take everything out of it to check for the problem. The problem was an old hose that needs to be replaced as it was collapsing, but the problem led to a major
cleaning and reorganization of “stuff.” So we worked, went to the pool for a swim, and I continued to work on naming photos.

It is now 10 pm here on Tuesday, November 4, but it is 9 am on Tuesday, November 4 for most of you reading this log. It is election day in the US, but this election is of more interest than most for people from around the world. We will be watching the election results starting tomorrow morning at 8 am, your 7 pm, here at the marina. CNN International begins the coverage at 2300 UTC. And we’ll be there! In the meantime, some cruisers have been listening to the BBC and getting the early results.
This evening we went out to the Vivo Center to get some take-home sushi for dinner and to do a little grocery shopping. When we returned, we were informed by our Australian friends on Shirena that the tiny little village of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire, a traditionally republican stronghold, went 15 to 6 for Obama. Hart’s Location, another New Hampshire early voting station also went for Obama; 17 Obama, 10 McCain, and 2 write-in’s for Ron Paul. Mark and I have been in the tiny little room
at The Balsams resort hotel where the folks at Dixville Notch vote in the first few seconds of election day (just after midnight). The Balsams is a grand old resort in the expensive but rustic New England style and the folks there haven’t voted for a Democrat since 1968. We’ll just have to wait and see if their vote is an indicator of the results of this election. We have been overwhelmed with the interest in the election in this part of the world. Everywhere we went in Indonesia, people would
ask us about the upcoming election and about Obama. From our observation, he has become a symbol of hope for the world, so we will certainly be anxious to see the results of this election. I think our son, Justin, summed it up best in an email he wrote this week to friends and family announcing the fact that he’s going to be dad. He wrote a little about becoming a dad and then he wrote a lot about an experience he and Jo had attending an Obama rally in Albuquerque. “It seems funny to write more
about politics in an email than about the fact that I’m about to have my first child, but the fate of the child is out of my hands. Its life will unfold as it is meant to. However, the fate of the country it will be born into is in all of our hands. Here’s to hope!”

Day 12, Year 4: Another Crazy Day in the Life

Day 12, Year 4: Another Crazy Day in the Life
Date: Monday, November 3, 2008
Weather: Overcast with Periods of Rain
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

It’s midnight and once again we just got home. We left at 9 am this morning and what a full day we had. We left this morning intending to go to two places and then return to the boat by noon. When we got to the bus stop, we met up with Dave and Judy of Freebird and they had the same agenda for the morning as us, with just a couple of additions. So we decided to go together. Somehow we constantly underestimate the time things will take and now fifteen hours later we return. But it was fun!

Our initial goal was to visit the Sultan’s Mosque and to do a little shopping on Arab Street. But then we started adding little things to our agenda. Our first stop was the Singapore Post where we were checking on the cost of sending packages home. Ouch! The cost is outrageous, so we will have to think of a more creative way of getting Christmas presents sent to our kids. Next we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast. Then we got on the MRT and made the Sultan’s Mosque our first tourist attraction of the day. The mosque dominates the Arab Street area with its huge golden dome. The prayer hall is also huge. We had on the right combination of clothing today (basically arms and legs were covered), so we got to go inside and actually see the prayer hall. Judy and I were interested in looking at the huge variety of silk materials available on Arab Street and it was really overwhelming. There are Thai silks, Malaysian silks, Japanese silks, Indian silks, and fake silks. We got a lesson from the first shop keeper we visited and will have to return to make purchases. It was just too hard to make the choices in a limited amount of time. We walked around the corner from Arab Street to the Malay Heritage Center and learned a little more about the history of Singapore. By this time it was almost 2 pm, so we gave up all hope of returning to the boat before our trip to the Night Safari. We just kept going full tilt . . . lunch at the Lavendar Food Court, shopping at our favorite boat store in Singapore, Marintex, a second visit to the Temple of a 1,000 Lights in Little India, and a fantastic visit to the Buddist temple across the street where we enjoyed a service of chanting and meditation by the monks.

If you aren’t worn out yet, come with me. We then parted ways with Dave and Judy and got on the MRT and headed out to the Singapore Zoo. We had made prior arrangements to meet Tina and Robert of Shirena there to visit the Night Safari. A 20-minute MRT ride, and 30-minute bus ride later, we arrived, had a Bongo Beef Burger, and went to the performing animal show. We then started our safari trip. We did a combination of tram ride and walking to see animals of the night. We saw tigers, lions, leopards, elephants, water buffalo, Asian rhinoceroses, and a host of other smaller animals in their natural nighttime habitats. It was great fun even at the end of an exhausting day.

We pushed today to see so many things because we were still planning on leaving on Thursday morning, but I came down with a killer cold last night and we still have “must see” things on our list, and a few “must do” items, so we are going to extend our visas and leave a few days later. So tomorrow is definitely a day of rest. The next day (our Wednesday morning, your Tuesday night) we watch the US election returns in the morning and go to extend our Visas in the afternoon. We still plan to leave no later than next Monday, weather cooperating. So Thursday will be our last “touristy” day with a visit to China Town, and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we will prepare to leave.

081103 Day 12 Singapore–Kampong Glam, Little India Again, Night Safari

Day 11, Year 4: We’re Going to be Grandparents, Again!

Day 11, Year 4: We’re Going to be Grandparents, Again!
Date: Sunday, November 2, 2008
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day; Rain Shower Late in the Afternoon
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

We’ve been bursting at the seams for two and half months with the news that Justin and Jo are going to have a baby. Not just any baby, mind you, but our second grand baby. They actually called us on our cell phone when we were in the Seaworld anchorage on the island of Flores. We were so excited, but were sworn to secrecy until now. This morning we received an email from Justin announcing to friends and family that he is going to be a father, so we called to make sure it was okay for us to finally make the announcement to “our” world. The baby is due near the end of April and that is the reason we have been considering changing our sailing plans. If we went ahead as planned, we would be somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean in April and would not be able to fly home until December when we would reach South Africa. That’s just not going to work for us, so we are still considering the options. But one way or another, we will see that baby before it is a month old. Jo looked great while she was visiting us in Indonesia and you could hardly tell she was pregnant, but she emailed this week saying “the bump is showing.” So “wee gerbil” is starting to grow.

We were able to successfully talk to both of our children for over an hour each today via Skype. We’ve had an awful time with the wireless connection here, but after connecting an old antenna we bought back in Tahiti, we have had a great signal. We can’t believe we didn’t do this sooner, but we’ll take advantage of it now that we have it. Our visas are up on Thursday, so we have been planning to leave then, but as the time grows closer we have begun to think about extending our visa and staying a few more days. We’ll see how much we get done in the next two days and then make our final decision.

So I talked on the phone all morning and then worked on naming photos until mid-afternoon. I’m now working on naming the photos from Bali and that seems like another life ago. Hopefully I’ll get those done in the next day or two, and then I will start working slowly backward from there. When I look through our photos, I am amazed at how much we have seen and experienced this cruising season. But it just doesn’t stop. In the late afternoon we headed out to Little India with Robert and Tina of
Shirena. My goal was to visit some of the wonderful temples and then have dinner. So we did a “temple walk” around Little India. Our first stop was Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple on the main street in Little India. We have walked past it a number of times, but we took time to enter and watch as the devout Hindus were engaged in prayer and worship. We then walked to the other end of Little India passing a mosque on the way that was a hub of activity. We walked past the Temple of 1000 Lights and then around to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple which is a national monument. We’re not sure what was happening while we were there but it was so special to watch. There was music being played on a type of drum and a flute of sorts. The temple was just full of beautiful carvings, both inside and out, so it was a wonderful place to be this Sunday afternoon. After the temple experience, we walked through the crowds and found a place where only locals were eating in a back alley. We stopped and had a beer and ordered dinner, very cheaply, and then headed back to One 15 Marina by way of the Vivo Center. We made a quick run through the supermarket and bought more paper products and a loaf of bread and made the bus back to Sentosa. Tomorrow morning we plan to make an early morning trip to Arab Street. Since we didn’t make it to Java to buy batik material, I read that they have it on Arab Street. There is also the Sultan Mosque which is the center of Islamic Singapore. We read that its golden dome and massive prayer hall makes it one of Singapore’s most impressive religious buildings. We will then return to Windbird, I’ll work on naming photos, and if the weather is good, we will go to the Night Safari. Another busy day in Singapore!

081102 Day 11 Singapore–Temple Walk in Little India

Day 10, Year 4: Windbird has a New Power Plant

Day 10, Year 4: Windbird has a New Power Plant
Date: Saturday, November 1, 2008
Weather: Stormy Early Morning, Overcast Day
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

Hurray! Our new AGM (absorbent glass mat) batteries arrived this morning and by day’s end Mark has them installed with a new marine plywood floor under them and a new marine plywood ‘lid’ on top of them so we can store things there. It was a long, hot job, but he is pleased with the results and we have power without running the engine so much. Since we don’t have a transformer to plug into local shore power, we will still have the run the engine when in a marina, but not nearly so much.

I worked all day trying to clean out food lockers and rearrange things. I’m still “in progress” but hopefully by the end of the weekend I’ll have things ship shape. We are also working on getting some of the photos from this cruising season uploaded to the website. We have the three days in Kalimantan on Borneo uploaded, so if you want to take a peek at the orangutan photos, you can go back to Days 151 to 153 to see them. Even with Singapore wireless, it is a slow process, but we’ll get there!

Day 9, Year 4: Time Is Slipping Away

Day 9, Year 4: Time Is Slipping Away
Date: Friday, October 31, 2008
Weather: Beautiful Clear Day, But Even Hotter
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

Our time here in Singapore is slipping away. It is easy to get comfortable here and forget to do the things you need to do. Our son Justin emailed and asked if we were missing the slower moving island life without all the trappings of modern civilization. I have to say that we are not, but that is because this is like staying at a five-star resort without the cost. Who can turn that away? But I must say that I am sad to leave the island life behind. From here on up the Malaysian coast, most
of the stops are in marinas. And when we reach Thailand, there are islands, but they are crawling with tourists. So we are just in to a new “era.” Every time I’ve said that things couldn’t get any better they have, so I’ll just have to wait and see what comes. I said to Mark yesterday that if I could turn back time, I would go back to Flores Island. It was a beautiful island with the most beautiful weaving I have ever seen, and I just didn’t get to spend enough time there to get to know the
local people. But we move on and maybe I will find another Flores somewhere along the line.

We traveled back to the Royal Thai Embassy today and got our visas. We won’t know how much time we have in Thailand until we arrive, so we’re hoping for the two months. The woman that gave us back our passports with the Thai visa stamped inside said we have two months. So we shall see.

We are working on sending some of our photos to our website, but it is a frustrating process. We have a good internet connection, but it keeps dropping out. I called my sister Patsy this morning and after three drops, I gave up. It was great to hear her voice, but very frustrating to not be able to complete our conversation. Patsy is having knee surgery next week and I never really got to talk to her about that. I am going to try an call again tonight (her morning) and hopefully we will have
a better connection.

Tomorrow those very expensive new batteries arrive and Mark will spend the entire day taking out the old and putting in the new. We have to replace the plywood floor the batteries sit on as the floor they sit on is deteriorating due to the boiling over of our old batteries back in Indonesia. So tomorrow won’t be an exciting day, but it will a good day because it will be so wonderful to have the new batteries in place. Right now we are having to run the motor about an hour every morning and again
an hour in the evening. The new batteries should hold a charge much longer. While Mark is getting the new batteries installed, I will work on making the ‘ultimate’ list of what we need to buy and do before leaving Singapore. I have a feeling the list will be longer than we can accomplish before our visa expires next Thurday, we we’ll just have to find a way to fit it all in.

Day 8, Year 4: More Embassies and More Shopping

Day 8, Year 4: More Embassies and More Shopping
Date: Thursday, October 30, 2008
Weather: Very Stormy Early Morning; Partly Sunny Day; Always Hot and Steamy
Location: One 15 Marina, Sentosa Island, Singapore

We woke way too early this morning to thunder, lightening, wind, and rain. The wind was so strong that Windbird shuttered in her berth. The storm finally subsided and we went back to sleep and didn’t wake up again until after 8 am. That is a late get-up for us, so we got into gear and headed for the Royal Thai Embassy once again. And this time we made sure we had the necessary paperwork. Getting there requires a bus ride from Sentosa Island across to Singapore where we walk, walk, walk through the underground to the Harborside MRT station. We get on the North-East Line and go about five stops, get off, walk, walk, walk, and get on the North-South Line. We go two stops and get off at Orchard Road and walk, walk, walk to the Embassy. All of this is easy but it takes time (about an hour) and this was the third day in a row that we have had to do the same thing. This time we hope we got it right. At least they accepted our application and we go back tomorrow to get our visas. There should be no question that I will get a two month Thai visa, but for Mark, as captain of our vessel, there is a question as to whether he will get one month or two. They want to make sure the person in charge of a visiting boat stays with that boat, so they usually require monthly renewals and apply a hefty bond should the captain need to fly out of the country. If Mark gets only a one month visa, he could have to travel out of Thailand and back in to renew. And that would happen sometime in the middle of January while Heather, Jed, and Sam are visiting. That would be a “royal” pain and something we are trying to avoid. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when we return there tomorrow. The woman who accepted our application told us “they” will give us what “they” want to, but that even if Mark gets only one month, by applying from here instead of waiting until we cross the border, he should be able to simply pay for the renewal without leaving the country. We asked her if he would still have to pay for the renewal and she said, “Most assuredly.”

From the Royal Thai Embassy it is about a quarter to a half mile to the mall with the great supermarket, so we walked, walked, walked and went shopping. Three small boxes of food cost $450 Singapore dollars or about $300 US. But I got Crisco, Grandma’s Molasses, pure maple syrup from the US, Old El Paso chunky tomato salsa and jumbo taco shells, more BumbleBee Wild Alaskan salmon, Hormel turkey bacon and pork bacon, Skippy peanut butter, and on and on. Of course, there is a price tag for being able to buy all your Western favorites, but we might not see these things again until we get home. So we’ll keep stocking up while we are here. We bought as much as we could possibly carry on our little two-wheeled cart and then headed back to the MRT for the trip home, now carting this tower of food. It was actually easier than we had expected, but when the check-out clerk at the store asked us if our order was for home delivery, we were sure tempted to say yes. Of course, that comes with a price as well.

Mark has been spending much of his time here researching how to get a new bank of batteries for Windbird. We want AGM batteries that do not require any maintenance and we had been told that we would get the best deal in Malaysia. We were also told when we arrived that there are no AGM batteries in Singapore until a ship arrives in November. But both pieces of information were incorrect. Two days in a row a man named Johnny Lim left his card on our boat. He ‘is’ Johnny Marine Supply & Service and he does have AGM batteries cheaper than the prices quoted on the West Marine website and cheaper than the marine supply in Malaysia is charging. So late this afternoon we confirmed the order with him and found out we will need to pay in cash. We’ll need more than $2,000 US dollars, so we are going to have to make a few trips to the ATM to get the whole amount. The batteries should be delivered on Saturday and it will be a great relief to get them installed and working. These batteries are Windbird’s power plant and without them there are no lights, no computer, no printer, no freezer, no refrigerator, no toaster . . . you get the picture.

Today we had a couple of neat experiences through our website. A young person here in Singapore, Siti, whose family was originally from Bawean Island in Indonesia, came across our website when researching Bawean. We visited there with Justin and Jo on our way to Kumai and Siti is going there in about a week to visit the great-great-great grandfather’s land. We hope to share some pictures and Bawean impressions with Siti and think it is so amazing that we connected through the website. Then early this morning we got a reply to an email inquiry we sent late last night. We have a friend that we met through our website and he got us in contact with a US cruising couple living temporary in Thailand. Fred and Judy of S/V Wings left Seattle in 1996 and have worked their way slowly this far around the world. They have been extremely helpful to us when we send email inquiries about Thailand and Fred got back to me almost immediately with my inquiries about getting a Thai visa. I think it is just so amazing how small the world has become with email and the internet.

081030 Day 8 MRT to Thai Embassy, Orchard Road